Low blood sugar, also called hypoglycemia, occurs when the sugar (glucose) level in the blood drops below what the body needs to function normally.

Key points

  • Not all medicines for diabetes cause low blood sugar. Usually, these medicines cause blood sugar to drop low enough to cause only mild symptoms, such as sweating, shakiness, and hunger. If your child eats something that contains sugar, his or her blood sugar level will rise. But if your child doesn't eat something that contains sugar, his or her blood sugar may continue to drop to a very low level. Symptoms of severe hypoglycemia can include disorientation, confusion, combativeness, and loss of consciousness.
  • Taking too many doses of medicine for diabetes in one day, not eating enough food, or doing strenuous exercise can cause your child's blood sugar level to drop below the target range. Children who take insulin are also at risk for low blood sugar. If your child's blood sugar drops very low, he or she could go into a coma and possibly die.
  • To prevent serious problems from low blood sugar:
    • Test your child's blood sugar often. Or have your child test his or her own blood sugar.
    • Be alert to the early signs of low blood sugar, such as sweating, shakiness, hunger, blurred vision, and dizziness.
    • Keep some glucose or sucrose tablets or solution or other quick-sugar foods with your child at all times. Have your child eat some at the first sign of low blood sugar.
    • Teach your child's caregivers, teachers, and coaches what to do if your child has low blood sugar.

More information about children with diabetes can be found in these topics:

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How do you deal with low blood sugar?

Here are some ways you can manage a low blood sugar emergency.

Be prepared

  • Keep some glucose or sucrose tablets or solution or other quick-sugar food with your child at all times. It can raise your child's blood sugar level 2.1 mmol/L in 20 minutes.
  • Know the symptoms of low blood sugar. Post a list of these symptoms where you and your child will see it often. Have your child carry a copy at all times. Add any symptoms you have noticed in your child that are not on the list. The child may not always have the same symptoms.
  • Have your child wear medical identification, such as a medical alert bracelet. People will know that your child has diabetes and can get help in case your child's blood sugar drops very low.
  • Teach your child's caregivers how to check blood sugar. Have instructions with the blood sugar meter.
  • Post the instructions for emergency care for low blood sugar in a convenient place at home and at school.

Treat low blood sugar early

  • Check your child's blood sugar if you think it may be low, even if you don't see any symptoms. Follow the steps for treating low blood sugar when your child develops symptoms of low blood sugar or when your child's blood sugar is below his or her target range.

  • Write down your child's symptoms and what you did. Use the blood sugar record (What is a PDF document?).
  • Let your child's doctor know if your child is having frequent low blood sugar problems. His or her medicine may need to be adjusted or changed.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Stephen LaFranchi, MD - Pediatrics, Pediatric Endocrinology

Current as ofAugust 21, 2015